Namco Bandai's Katamari series first appeared in 2004 and immediately attracted a cult following, drawn to its whimsical style, off the wall King of All Cosmos and challenging play that involves rolling up all sorts of objects.
That said, the franchise has appeared on multiple consoles since that time, and somewhere along the way, lost its charm. This was especially evident in the wonky i Love Katamari for iPhone, and the same holds true in the more recent Katamari Amore, which is a universal download for both iPhone and iPad.
While not a bad game per se, the entire experience smacks of simply going through the motions. Like all Katamari titles, the almighty King forces his son, the Prince, to visit Earth and gather items using a sticky ball that steadily grows in the size.
The actual gameplay is fine. In fact, Namco Bandai has done a much better job by adding dual stick controls, in addition to options for single stick and the accelerometer. We prefer the latter, but it's different for each player.
Stages, meanwhile, are vintage Katamari. You'll explore a variety of unique areas gathering up a bunch of objects, including thumbtacks, batteries and later, even living things, all for the pleasure of the King.
And yet, the entire experience feels hollow. The story hasn't evolved much since 04. The same can be said of the levels, which seem stale and lazy.
There's also a matter of cost. Although Katamari Amore is free to download, you only receive one two-minute romp through a place called "John's Room". To unlock six more levels, plus a Pac-Man inspired bonus board and three modes, you'll need to pay $3.99.
Frankly, that was more than we wanted to spend. Rest assured that if you absolutely adore this series, Katamari Amore delivers more of the same. Whether or not that's good enough, though, is entirely up to you.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
What's Hot: The King of All Cosmos, traditional Katamari gameplay, free to download.
What's Not: Same old thing, only one free level, lag issues, dual stick controls take some getting used to.